October is going to be a very exciting month for us. My husband Charlie and I will be celebrating 5 years of marriage and we will also be welcoming our baby girl to this world, the most wonderful miracle we have created together.
The past 5 years of marriage have been such a blessing and a big eye and heart opening for me. I matured a lot. I changed a lot emotionally. Even though many days or sometimes a month or two would go by where things were rocky. I struggled in my relationship. I had doubts. I had anger. I had sadness and disappointment. Yet, even though I did not know it at the time, every single hardship I went through was a blessing in disguise. It was a necessary step for peeling off the layers that prevented me from building a deeper emotional intimacy with my husband.
For so many of us, we think that our work as a couple stop when we get married. It is actually the most ridiculous fantasy we have built in our society because quiet frankly our work starts when we get married. That means – at some point in time, the mask we carried during dating will dissolve and our real fears will surface – we have no choice but to work through them if we really want to have a happy and long-lasting relationship. Marriage gets us triggered big time to face our deepest flaws and in return we trigger our partner to experience the same. We are nothing but each other’s mirror and the flaws that we see in our partner are nothing but a projection of the flaws that have been buried within us.
“We carry all the qualities in the world”: That means we carry the ugly, good and beautiful. In other words, every time I pointed the finger at my husband for something I didn’t like, if I were to be pretty honest with myself, I would realize that I have done the same thing with him or with other people. That’s why, marriage is such a holy relationship because this is the place where your wounds will surface. This is the holy place where you can (if you choose to) heal everything that aches from jealousy to anxiety, insecurity, confidence, communication and most of all truly being vulnerable and intimate with yourself first and then your partner.
Today, I’ll share with you few things I learned in the past few years from my mistakes – I hope they would open your heart and mind to start taking actions and really take marriage as something that is HOLY.
1- Never correct your partner in public: I did this so many times without any intention of harm of course. It would come out naturally over something that is silly. Even if your partner is not correct with what they’re saying, just smile and be supportive. This may sound dishonest for so many, but the most important thing for a man is for his opinion to be respected. That’s how their identity is built. Correcting them is very similar to when they criticize our feelings such as: this is not a big deal, why are you getting overly emotional about it? And, we all know – we all hate when this happens because we feel disrespected.
2- It’s better to complain than to criticize: Criticism is poison to any relationship. Who likes to be criticized? It’s unproductive, hurtful and add more unnecessary wounds. There are so many ways to feel heard: We don’t have to hurt other people in order for us to let them know that we’re hurt or sometimes we do that because we don’t know how else to express our wants. Vulnerability is key here and what I mean by that is sit with yourself, learn about how you feel first about the situation, express how you feel to yourself and then know what you want from your man.
For example: Let’s say you’re angry because your man doesn’t pick up after himself. This makes many of us so angry because really at the bottom of it, it’s not about not picking up the clothes, it’s about not being acknowledged/ heard for how we feel about the situation. Criticism/ blame sounds like this: You are so clumsy. I’m so sick of always picking up after you – why do I always have to remind you about this?
Complaint sounds more like this: Sweetheart, I feel hurt today. I know you must have forgotten to pick up after yourself but I’m really very tired and sometimes it’s very overwhelming for me to see everything that I have to do every day. Can we figure out a way to work this thing out where we’re both happy about the situation?
Bottom line: Learn to use open ended questions and discussions instead of being critical and judgmental.
3- It’s okay to argue and fight in a healthy way: Many couples avoid fighting or discussing things that hurt them because they’re afraid of ruining the relationship. The opposite is true actually. When you don’t express how you feel and what hurts you, when you suppress your thoughts and emotions then one day things will blow in your face then it may be too late to fix anything. Therefore, expressing your anger in a constructive way is very important especially if you desire to have intimate relationship with your partner.
4- Let go of being controlling – you can’t have things your way all the time: Many women want their partner to prove their love by saying yes to everything they want. Sometimes, men do what we want to get us off their back especially if we’re critical and pushy about the situation. But is this really the kind of relationship we want? So, it’s very important to listen to what your man wants as well and come up with a compromise and negotiate in your marriage. Marriage is not all about you and your feelings, men have feelings too even though they’re so much more discreet about it then we are. When you allow a safe space for them to open up to you, you’ll be surprised with how much more appreciation and love they would give you.
5- Don’t say yes when you mean no: You’re not only being dishonest and unfair to him at this point but you’re also being dishonest with yourself too. You’re not only creating future conflicts and resentment in the relationship but you’re also creating anger towards yourself and eventually you’ll see yourself as a victim instead of realizing that you’re the one who has created the situation in the first place.
6- Every time you blame, point the finger back at you: Blaming is a sign of immaturity. That doesn’t mean you let the person get away with what they have done or that doesn’t mean suppress your feelings either. But before you point the finger at your partner, check in with yourself HONESTLY and see where have you done or are doing the same thing in your life. Ask yourself: What was my role in this situation? Take responsibility for your feelings. No one can trigger a specific emotion within you unless the wound was already there and that means – it’s yours to work through.
7- Do you feel jealous, insecure or abandoned? Express what you’re feeling: Many of us feel this way in one way or another. Some suppress it, some play games and for some they come up with fights and this is what confuses men because at this point they have no idea what they did wrong. I learned to express my feelings with my husband without blame of course though sometimes I fail but I always go back and apologize because it’s so much more important to me to master my emotions than to let my partner repair the wound.
It’s okay to say: I felt jealous today or I’m not feeling safe right now in the relationship. Of course, state what’s making you insecure and again take responsibility for your feelings. If you want them to do something specific, then also ask for it as long as you’re also doing the same thing in return.
Vulnerability is so essential and powerful in a relationship – it is also part of showing the nurturing side of the feminine energy. There are times when you’re going to be sick, depressed, sad or going through some rough times. It is okay to show that side of you to your husband because as human beings we love to feel needed – it gives us a deeper sense of purpose – that’s also part of showing our true authentic self.
8- Be honest with yourself and with your partner: I’m so blessed with the relationship I have because I’m extremely honest with my husband about everything. Honest and transparent in a kind way of course but in order for me to do this, I learned to be honest and kind with myself first. How else could I be honest with him if I’m not clear about my feelings first?
I learned to question my thoughts and feelings before I judge. I try to do this as much as possible especially when I’m choosing to be a mindful person. I love the following quote by Carl Jung and I hope it inspires you to start thinking and questioning before jumping into conclusions.
“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge”. – Carl Jung
9- Name calling is poison: One of my biggest lessons this year is to know the difference between saying: You’re mean vs you’re being mean. When we directly name call our partner (or anyone else) we’re basically not only criticizing them but we’re also telling them that they are “that thing” we are calling them. When it is often very far from reality. For example: I can be a bitchy person in a specific situation but that doesn’t mean I’m bitchy 100% of the time. This kind of judgment is very harmful, hurtful, disrespectful and simply not true because they’re probably not mean 100% of the time then why turn them into something they’re not?
10- Give compliments, say thank you and say I’m sorry OFTEN: We forget to say thank you and “I appreciate you or appreciate this or that” when we’re in a relationship for a long time. This is just a sign of how we take our blessings for granted and that also includes taking ourselves for granted as well. What would we lose if we say thank you every time our partners did something small including picking up their dish? It just simply shows what kind of person we’re being and that always feels nice.
Many also have hard time saying “I’m sorry” when they do something wrong (including with their kids) because it’s so much more important to be right then to choose kindness and peace – this comes from a place of fear of being weak when the opposite is quiet true. At some point, you must decide what you want in your relationship: What is more important for you? Being in control or being intimate and at peace with your partner?
11- Listen to him without trying to fix his problem and listen more even if it doesn’t interest you: This is a hard one especially when men start discussing things that we don’t understand. For example: my husband talks sometimes about security and techy stuff that I have no idea what they mean. I used to roll my eyes before when he initiated the conversation but then I realized how harmful it was to do this. It didn’t only shut him down around me, but it also made us distant. I learned to be curious about what he’s saying by giving him a safe space to speak. This I continue to learn and will always be work in progress but at least he opens up to me way more than he ever did before and therefore it made us so much closer.
12- Redefine faithfulness: That was a huge one for me this year. It came about when I threw a jealousy tantrum during my pregnancy when my husband was being nice to a cashier attendant. I was feeling so insecure about my body that day and honestly sometimes I would look at a skinny woman and envy her for what she had. It took me a while to embrace my new body and love the way I looked. This affected my relationship with my husband – although I handled the situation quiet maturely by saying to him literarily: I didn’t feel good when you were being extra nice with the cashier. I felt disrespected and hurt. I know you don’t mean to hurt me but I felt hurt.
This situation made me really think hard about how I define the word faithful. When I questioned if my husband was being faithful by flirting or being nice to this woman, my answer was YES. Questioning my thought about this situation led me to the following reminders/discoveries:
1- If he wasn’t faithful, then he would do it behind my back – he was being transparent and being his kind self in front of me. There was nothing to hide and it was beautiful. The insecurity I felt had nothing to do with him but more to do with how much I was rejecting myself at the time (again taking responsibility for your feelings is key to a happy relationship – when we feel rejected and insecure about how we look, that’s because we’re only projecting our own opinion about ourselves on others).
2- He is always always there for me emotionally and when I need him. What else do I want?
3- He is very faithful to his job, boss and his career even when he hated what he did at times. He works with integrity – then how could I doubt someone like him?
4- I’m very outspoken when I find a man attractive, then why shouldn’t he be? I had to decide again what kind of relationship I want.
5- Many women fear their partner cheating on them – however it’s fascinating to me to see how many women actually cheat on their significant others yet they pretend that they did nothing wrong as if they are entitled to hurt others but it’s okay for others to do the same to them. So, If I thought that my husband was unfaithful by being nice to this woman then quiet honestly, I have been unfaithful to him as well because I’m kind to people and to other men as well. I realized that I was unfair and had no logic in my thinking at all and I’m only creating my own hell.
6- I remembered his morals and values and when I did – I also realized that he was never unfaithful to his xgfs before even though some were really not nice to him – that reminded me again what kind of person he is.
7- I know how much he loves me – he shows it to me, says it to me and act on it too (but I forget this sometimes).
Just by questioning my feelings and being honest and redefining being faithful changed my relationship with him tremendously. I know better when a burst of insecurity shows up again. It’s my stuff – it has nothing to do with him.
13- Men have feelings too: Dr Pat allen says: “If you want to have a good relationship – respect your man’s thoughts and cherish your wife’s feelings”. While this is SO SO accurate – men have feelings too. When you create a safe space for them to speak without trying to control them, without trying to change them or fix them then what will unfold will be so sacred and beautiful – it will only bring you so much closer together and most of the time they express their feelings through their thoughts as well so keep your mind, ears and heart open.
14- Invest in your relationship: it simply means do what he loves sometimes and he’ll do what you love at times too and DO what you both love or have in common as well. It doesn’t always have to be the movie that you want or the kind of restaurant that you like. Ask him for what he wants or feels like doing sometimes. For example: watch the show that he loves even though you can’t stand it. The more you invest in him, the more your’ll be committed to the relationship.
15- Finally whatever outcome you’re getting in your relationship is a reflection of your thoughts, your wounds and what kind of person you’re choosing to be: If there’s something you want, ask for it. If there’s something you don’t like then take responsibility for it instead of dumping all your baggage on your partner. Waiting for him to change is a waste of time and unfair as well. Changing your thoughts about the situation, working through your own negative feelings and creating a safe space for both of you to express your thoughts and feelings will give you the peaceful and loving relationship that you want.
It takes so much courage to take responsibility of our own feelings – but I promise you – it’s all a decision. Once you choose peace over war – you’ll know that it’s so much easier to be responsible than to wait for others to change or to give you what you want.